Aston Villa’s players must prepare for a “cup final” after showing “courage” to secure a priceless win over Arsenal and move out of the Premier League relegation zone with one game to go, says boss Dean Smith
Trezeguet beat Emiliano Martinez with a powerful first-time finish after Tyrone Mings had diverted a corner into the Egypt international’s path to lift Villa out of the bottom three for the first time since 28 February,
Villa moved above managerless Watford, who had started the day 17th before a heavy 4-0 home defeat by Manchester City, on goal difference.
The Midlanders’ second win in three games sets up a dramatic final day at the bottom of the table on Sunday, which Villa will begin level on points with Watford and three points ahead of Bournemouth – with two of those three teams likely to go down.
Meanwhile, 16th-placed West Ham, who also play on Wednesday, still require one point to secure safety, although their goal difference ought to keep them up.
Villa’s last game is away to West Ham and if they win – providing Watford do not win by a margin two or more goals greater than they do – Smith’s men will secure another season in the top flight, having spent much of it in the bottom three.
“We’d seen Watford play earlier and get beat, and we knew we had to get a win to even catch them up,” Smith told BBC Sport. “By getting the win it puts our fate it in our own hands.
“There was a lot of character and a lot of courage from the players. It was a massive performance and I am proud of the players for that but now we have to recover and get ready for our cup final.
“We’re working hard to maintain our status and the last three results have shown that.”
A 10th league defeat means Arsenal, playing in their first match since reaching the FA Cup final, will finish outside the top six for the first time in 25 years.
They can come no higher than eighth after a disappointing performance by Mikel Arteta’s side, Eddie Nketiah going closest to equalising with a header which hit the post.
However, the Gunners will still have a big say in the relegation battle when they host Villa’s rivals Watford on Sunday.
During the match, a banner reading “Back Arteta Kroenke Out’ was towed by an aeroplane over Villa Park in reference to Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke.